One Gardener's Gold Is Another One’s Garbage
September 25, 2011
Allan in Garden Design, Gardening, Gardening Tips & Advice, Landscaping, Musings on Gardening, embedded bouders, garden blogging, rocks in the garden

I stumbled across a blog written by a gardener who had just purchased a weekend retreat in the country. In the process of re landscaping the new property, the writer decided to share with her readers the problems she faced and their optional, potential solutions.

One project entailed landscaping the front lawn -a gentle rolling hill that ran from the foundation of the home to the road. The new owner faced a challenge: - what to do with the rocks that protruded out of the ground. Well, they weren’t really rocks. They were, in fact, a grouping of deeply embedded boulders that peeked out of the earth in the center of the lawn. The gardener asked readers for their input.

I suspected that the rocks may have been in place since the glacier age and commented that they appeared to be so deeply embedded that it might be too costly to remove them. Since the blogger’s home was set in a rural area, with relaxed and informal landscaping, I suggested that the boulders remain in place. I recommended that they be incorporated into a plant composition in the center of the lawn.

The texture and color of the boulders were ideal for enhancing the foliage of vertical growing plants, especially those with variegated leaves. I have similar naturally occurring rocks in my own flowerbeds and, even though they are located at the surface, and easy to remove, I keep them in place because they make nearby plants look better. The contrast of grey stone against green foliage adds character to a garden.

As usual in the world of garden blogging, mine was not the only opinion that the writer received. A reader in the UK commented strongly that the blogger should remove the rocks on the front lawn. What an interesting opposite point of view. Perhaps that reader had a more traditional view of the purpose of a country front lawn than I do. Was there a cultural bias at play, here?

I know very little about UK gardeners – only what I have learned from friends who have visited the homes of their British hosts. They report that, when they arrive, it is customary for the host to direct the visitors' attention to the garden before setting foot inside the house. By comparison, on this side of the Atlantic,  a host might first draw a visitor’s attention to new granite countertops in the kitchen or an entertainment system in the family room. The garden might be shown later, if at all.

Some believe that if a garden defines one or one’s home, then it must always remain attractive to visitors. Under those circumstances, rocks, that are smack-in-the-middle of a green lawn, are deemed an eyesore. In contrast, my fellow blogger who is also defined by her garden, but who enjoys the privacy of her rural retreat, left the boulders in her lawn, exactly where she found them.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/).
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